The NWTF announced Stafford’s award during the organization’s 50th anniversary celebration at its 47th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show, sponsored by Mossy Oak.
The Wayne Bailey Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a wildlife biologist, trapper or wildlife manager who has devoted his or her career to the wild turkey and played a major role in the turkey’s restoration and management.
Stafford is a quintessential example of a state wildlife agency biologist who dedicated a career to the stewardship of the wild turkey, as was exemplified by Wayne Bailey.
For over three decades, Stafford worked at nearly every level of conservation in his home state of Louisiana. His turkey trapping skills were an asset during the final phases of Louisiana’s restocking program and his hands-on management as a technician early in his career improved numerous acres for turkey and other wildlife.
Since the late 1980s, LDWF has annually conducted one of the most extensive gobbler banding projects in the nation, and Stafford was a pivotal player in that endeavor’s success since its inception.
Stafford’s career culminated in his time as statewide wild turkey program manager, which allowed him to direct all aspects of turkey management, research and regulation in Louisiana. During his time in this position, LDWF partnered with Louisiana State University to conduct several important studies which have had significant impact on the understanding of the species.
Most prominently, Stafford was a collaborator on some of the first work shifting from VHF to GPS-based telemetry, which revolutionized wild turkey research and has made GPS the standard in the field.
Even after leaving LDWF, Stafford was unable to set aside his dedication to the iconic bird. His first years of retirement were spent penning “Louisiana Wild Turkeys: History, Science, Management and Hunting.” This book is one of the best of its kind and allowed Stafford to pour his lifetime of turkey knowledge into a special blend of historical information, basic biology, practical management advice and humble appreciation for the bird and its hunting. This work is approachable to a lay audience, but authoritative enough for a professional’s bookshelf and may well constitute the crowning achievement of an already impressive career.
“From research to habitat management to hunter advocacy, Jimmy’s devoted career has bettered our understanding of wild turkeys and impacted our favorite game bird across the great state of Louisiana,” NWTF co-CEO Kurt Dyroff said. “We are proud to honor Jimmy’s immense legacy with the prestigious Wayne Bailey Lifetime Achievement Award.”
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale.
2023 is the NWTF's 50th anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization's mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50-year celebration, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and the NWTF's people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future. Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.